Course Content
Chapter 3: Writing Mechanics Help
Chapter 12: Teaching Writing
Chapter 23: Teaching Reading
College English Composition: Help and Review
About Lesson

Selecting Best Words

The careful selection of powerful words for your business messages will allow you to keep the readers’ attention and deliver your ideas effectively. In this lesson, we will discuss four key tips to select the best words for your message.

Simon works for Crazi Toys in the marketing department. His job places him in the center of the message highway, as he has to correspond daily with production, engineering, accounting, finance and packaging. Simon is going to show us how he tries to use the most impactful words when communicating in business to receive the best response. Let’s take a look at each tip now.

Choose Robust/Specific Words

Simon’s first tip is to choose the most robust/specific words when expressing thoughts and ideas in your business messages. It is important to choose strong nouns and verbs, which will allow you to not overuse adjectives and adverbs within your text. For example, Simon had to provide a summary of their new dump truck to a local toy company. Simon’s description was originally: ‘Our dump truck moves through mud with its big tires.’

Simon reworded the sentence with more robust words and the result was: ‘Our mighty dump truck maneuvers through sludge with its colossal tires.’

Simon’s additional tip is to utilize a thesaurus, which offers an immense list of synonyms for you to consider for your word choice. He usually improves his word selection with a quick review of his message with the aid of his thesaurus.

Choose Recognizable Words

A second suggestion from Simon is to choose recognizable words. Although it is recommended to use a thesaurus, you don’t want to choose words that you and your reader will not understand. The words should be recognizable and commonly used within your business world. If the word choice is confusing, the reader will not comprehend your ideas. For example, Simon’s sentence with recognizable words would be: ‘His old-fashioned toy ideas were fantastic for our sales this month.’

Now let’s chose a word that was on the list of the New York Times most challenging words and hence not so recognizable: ‘His antediluvian toy ideas were fantastic for our sales this month.’

If Simon’s employees did not understand the word selection of antediluvian, they would not comprehend that old-fashioned or classic toys ideas were a successful way to increase sales.

Avoid Clichés and Buzzwords

It is also important to avoid clichés and buzzwords within your business message. Clichés are overused phrases that portray the writer as having no original thought. They should be avoided in all situations as they can decrease the professionalism and overall interest in your message. For example, Simon tries to avoid the following clichés:

  • Due diligence
  • At the end of the day
  • All hands on deck
  • Too many cooks in the kitchen

In addition, the use of buzzwords can hamper the overall image of a message. Buzzwords are words or phrases that are in fashion during a particular time period. They can be used correctly in small doses in industries such as technology. Buzzwords are popular to use in business because they infer that the writer and reader are knowledgeable about certain information that others do not understand. It can add a feeling of importance or exclusiveness to written business documents. However, the overuse of buzzwords can actually make them become clichés. In addition, if the buzzwords are no longer relevant, your writing will seem obsolete. Simon tries to avoid buzzwords such as:

  • Sustainability
  • Transparency
  • Seamless
  • The Cloud
  • Deliverable

Limit Corporate Jargon

The last piece of advice from Simon is to limit the use of corporate jargon. Corporate jargon is words or phrases that are used in particular industries or trades. It can be very helpful when communicating a message within a specific group. For example, Simon uses engineering jargon when he is explaining his toy designs to the engineering team, such as CADD (Computer Aided Drafting and Design), CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) and TQM (Total Quality Management). Simon’s word of caution is to make sure that your reader is familiar with the jargon.

Lesson Summary

As a business writer it is important to select the best words for your message. You should carefully choose the words that offer the most impact and direction and make sure your words catch your reader’s attention. Simon’s tips for choosing the correct words when crafting a message are:

  • Choose robust/specific words, such as strong nouns and verbs, by using a thesaurus.
  • Choose recognizable words that are familiar within your business world and are easily understood and digested by the reader.
  • Avoid clichés and buzzwords that will make your work seem unprofessional and poorly written.
  • Limit corporate jargon unless communicating to a specific group, such as a company’s engineering department. Even so, limit your jargon so that other readers might understand your message if needed.
Join the conversation